Higher Education and Training minister will appoint an administrator for the embattled funding organisation.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor is going to dissolve the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board and appoint an administrator instead. This follows last week’s resignation of Sizwe Nxasana as chairperson of the board.

Lunga Ngqengelele, the spokesperson for the minister, told Wits Vuvuzela that the minister would appoint an administrator before the end of the week. Professor Neil Garrod, deputy vice-chancellor of the Central University of Technology has been appointed interim chair of the board until the administrator is announced.

The chief executive officer of NSFAS will report to the administrator who will assume overall responsibility for the management, administration and governance of the entity which are currently being carried out by the board.

“There is a need to deal decisively with the challenges facing the entity to ensure student funding is administered optimally for 2019 and that all outstanding issues for 2017 and 2018 are resolved,” Ngqengelele said.

In a statement following his resignation, Nxasana cited the “extreme strain” on the NSFAS payments system that came after former president Jacob Zuma announced free higher education for poor and working class students from households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000.

NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said that the challenges facing the funding organisation were complex. “These problems relate to the finalisation of funding decisions and disbursement of fund payment to eligible students.

“We are working very hard with the current board while we await minister Naledi Pandor to appoint an administrator as agreed on at a special meeting with NSFAS board on Friday, August 10,” Mamabolo said.

NSFAS has halted applications for the 2019 academic year until further notice while working on the 2017 and 2018 backlog.

FEATURED IMAGE: Thousands of current students are still waiting for their NSFAS applications to be finalised.  Photo: Takalani Sioga